Mickelson looking to cure 'beyond pathetic' putting

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 7, 2015, 1:32 am

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods withdrawing with injury.

Phil Mickelson three-putting his way to another missed cut.

Is this the new normal for 2015?

A day after Woods was whisked away in a golf cart because his glutes misfired, Mickelson won’t stick around for the weekend at his hometown event because of a deactivated putter.

No wonder the locals bemoaned the end of an era: It was the first time that both Tiger and Phil failed to play the weekend in consecutive starts.

Lefty stood on a podium after his round Friday looking and sounding broken. Having entered the season brimming with optimism, his confidence has been shattered by eight relatively listless rounds.

“You can’t compete out here putting the way I did,” he said. “It was one of my worst putting performances, and the first few weeks, really, have been the same way. You simply can’t compete at this level putting like that.”

In all there were five three-putts, the most of any player in the 156-man field and Mickelson’s career high through 36 holes in a non-major.

“I’m down,” he said. “I’m frustrated.”

And for good reason.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, videos and photos

After torpedoing Tom Watson’s captaincy during an uncomfortable Ryder Cup news conference, Mickelson disappeared from view for nearly four months. The occasional report trickled out, about Phil’s diet and his fitness and his renewed power, but since making his debut at the Humana Challenge he has been plagued by the same inconsistency that led to the worst year of his career in 2014.

Following his trunk slam in Phoenix, this is the first time since 2002 that Mickelson has missed the cut in consecutive weeks on Tour.

“I feel like I’m hitting the ball tee to green quite well, really well,” he said. “But if I can’t get back to the levels of 2013, I’m not sure what I’m going to do, because this is very frustrating.”

In the 30 Tour events since his surprising breakthrough at Muirfield, Mickelson has only a pair of top 10s and eight missed cuts or withdrawals. Last year he had a career-low one top 10 in 21 tries, his first winless season since ’03.

He was ranked outside the top 100 in total driving and ball-striking, but whatever gains he has made in those areas during the offseason have been negated by putting that he described as “beyond pathetic.”

“He’s very frustrated at the moment,” said Butch Harmon, Mickelson’s swing coach. “He feels like he’s played well enough to be in a pretty good position, and he’s done nothing with the putter. It was just horrendous how bad it was out there.”

Worse, Mickelson doesn’t appear any closer to a solution.

At the behest of short-game guru Dave Pelz, Mickelson began the year with a unique putting approach, using the claw grip for putts inside 10 feet and the conventional grip for those outside that range.

He abandoned the claw heading into Torrey Pines, but reverted back with a few holes remaining in his second round in a last-ditch effort to make the cut. It didn’t work, as Mickelson’s 74-72 left him three shots adrift.

Moving forward, he said he didn’t know which grip he would use.

“I don’t think that the claw is the long-term solution,” he said, “although I think it’s a good way to putt. But it’s not ultimately where I want to be.”

Whatever Mickelson is doing now isn’t working.

Through two rounds he needed a whopping 64 putts – including 33 in the opening round, when he lost 2.96 strokes to the field on the greens.

“If I had answers,” he said, “I would be out there putting better.”

Added Harmon: “He’s just in one of those funks that you get in and it gets in your head.”

Even Mickelson says that what likely began as a technical issue has morphed into something mental, as well.

Like anyone he has endured hot and cold spells during his career, but his putting was never a long-term concern. That’s not the case anymore, and for a player whose game is predicated on confidence, his mojo is now in short supply.

“I don’t think it will be a quick fix,” he said, “because if you putt bad for a few weeks, it’s going to take not only fundamental change, but it will take some good low rounds and some hot putting streaks to get the confidence back, too.”

Unlike Woods, whose problems are more widespread (health, driver, short game), Mickelson’s issue at least is more isolated.

Right now, that’s little consolation. For these aging warriors, the top of the leaderboard has never seemed further away.

Getty Images

Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.